Review and road test of the Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)

GRAND FOR FAMILIES

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

Ford's Grand Tourneo Connect, sold between 2012 and 2020, is a family-friendly vehicle that won't see you having to pack light. Yes it's a van-based product: no, it doesn't constantly remind you of that fact. There's up to seven seats in the kind of properly extended body style that direct rivals from this era often don't bother to offer. And carriage capacity that's even better than Ford's much bigger S-MAX and Galaxy MPVs. A surprising product then, that's as happy with passengers as packages, will deal with long loads in its stride and look after your life with its clever SYNC telemetry. In short, if you were shopping in this segment for a practical van-based 7-seat MPV from this period, you'd have to consider it.

Models

[diesel] 1.5 & 1.5 TDCi

History

Style and practicality. Two mutually exclusive qualities you'd have thought. Not according to most makers of compact MPVs. Without exception, they all claim somehow to have combined elegant looks with van-like capacity. We wouldn't blame you for being sceptical about that if you're shopping in this market for a used 7-seat People Carrier from the 2012-2021 period. And in response, we'd direct you to this car, Ford's Grand Tourneo Connect. Ultimately, there's no way around this: for real van-like capacity, you really have to have a van. Still at least these days, it can be a very nice one - a vehicle like this. What we're looking here is essentially a lengthened version of the ordinary Tourneo Connect, which is in turn the passenger-carrying stablemate of Ford's compact Transit Connect van. This 'Grand' model is for families who like the idea of van-based people moving transport but have the occasional need to carry up to seven people. You might think that to hardly be a new concept - Citroen, Peugeot and Fiat have been offering products like these for years with their Berlingo Multispace, Partner Tepee and Doblo models. In every case though, the same bodystyle is used, whether five or seven-seats are fitted. To find a car of this kind properly lengthened to more easily accommodate a third seating row, you have to start looking at the commercial vehicle segment. Ford was arguably the first maker to provide such a thing properly developed for and targeted at the passenger car market. That's one unique selling point here. The other is that this Grand Tourneo Connect claimed more car-like credentials than any model of this kind had ever previously offered. From interior furnishing to handling response, it's pretty much the equal of any compact MPV from this period you might care to name, except for the fact that it's far cheaper than most of them and much bigger. Sounds appealing doesn't it? Let's check this car out.

What You Get

The reality is that if you want the virtues of a van, then you'll need to put up with van-like looks. Fortunately in this case, these aren't too utilitarian. In fact, from the front at least, a proud owner could even argue this Grand Tourneo Connect model to be rather smart. Here, you'll find the brand's familiar 'Kinetic Design' look with its big trapezoidal lower grille and slender, swept-back headlights that take the edge off the boxy look. Aesthetically then, the stylists have done enough: this is very much a compact People Carrier of its time. And one of much greater Focus, not least because Ford's best-selling family hatch provides most of the underpinnings here. But we mean that primarily because Ford's Tourneo range from this period offers options that are far more individually suited to specific kinds of customers wanting van-based alternatives in the people carrying segment. Let us explain. Originally in the Tourneo line-up, Ford offered us a plushed-up little Transit Connect van with windows and five seats. And a plushed-up fully-sized Transit van with windows and nine seats. By 2012 though, the Tourneo range was very different, offering far more alternatives. At the foot of the line-up, small families could choose the Fiesta supermini-based Tourneo Courier. While at the other end of the scale, those with a permanent parking space at their local hospital's maternity wing could opt for the huge nine-seater Tourneo Custom model. The Connect variants we're looking at here sit in between these two extremes, with the choice of either the standard 'Tourneo Connect' bodystyle or this lengthened 'Grand Tourneo Connect' model that's our focus here, this variant adding in an extra 400mm in body length so that it can properly accommodate a third row of seats. The fact that Ford were offering two separate bodystyles at this level was significant, because in this period, no other direct van-based competitor did. If you look at a rival Citroen Berlingo Multispace, Peugeot Partner Tepee or Fiat Doblo from this time, you'll find that they all come in one shape only, with just five seats as standard. If you wanted your car to be able to take seven with one of these rivals, from new you had to buy the additional chairs as an extra cost pack, but the vehicle itself wouldn't be lengthened to accommodate them. As you might expect, the fact that this Ford has been makes a lot of difference in terms of the usability of those rearmost seats. For a start, access to them is easier because the extra length enabled the sliding side door aperture to be 22cms wider. The sliding doors, by the way, are something you'll be very thankful for when the kids are getting in and out in tight parking spaces. But we were talking about the benefits of the lengthened body style. Here's another. Unlike the optional fixed-in-place third row chairs that rivals offer, these ones can slide backwards and forwards so you can prioritise space for either people or the packages they must carry in the boot behind. It's a pity that the middle row bench doesn't do the same. In fact, to be honest, it's a bit disappointing that Ford fitted a bench seat here at all: most rivals have three individual second row seats that slide and recline for greater family flexibility. This one doesn't do either of those things. Still, on the plus side, it shouldn't be too difficult to fit three adults in the very back on short to medium-length trips and of course headroom from the boxy shape is ample, even if you're carrying loftier folk and/or have fitted the optional panoramic glass roof. From new, there was the option of useful lidded aircraft locker-style overhead storage and you also get a usefully storage bin recessed into the floor - though curiously, unlike rivals, Ford only gives you one of these, directly behind the driver's seat. Kids meanwhile, will like the low windowline and will doubtless like the seatback tables fitted on the top-spec model. At the wheel, it's all very car-like, though in a sensible, utilitarian sort of way. The commercial origins of course, mean that you don't get the fashionable soft-touch plastics you'd find in, say, a C-MAX - but then, are these really necessary on a practical family car? What's more important is that build quality from the Spanish Valencia factory seems very strong and the wipe-clean surfaces provided appear tough and durable. You view a clearly presented set of familiar Ford instruments through a four-spoke wheel that moves for both reach and rake. And you immediately appreciate a supportive driver's seat that's eight-way-adjustable on most models, making it easier to get comfortable than it would be in some competitors. Talking of comfort, we love the way the gearstick sprouts from the bottom of the dash rather than the floor, so it falls to hand more easily. The mobile phone-inspired centre console switchgear layout comes straight from the Focus and is relatively simply to use, once you get used to the rather bewildering array of buttons and the fact that the infotainment screen at the top of the dash is a little small. On the positive side, the buttons are all quite large so in colder months, you can if necessary operate them wearing gloves. There's plenty of practicality too, though it's a pity the base model doesn't get the lockable glovebox you find further up the range. Otherwise, there's decent cubby storage for the paraphernalia of everyday working life, including reasonably-sized door bins, plus two cupholders and a coin holder by the gearstick as well as a usefully deep bin further back where you'll find aux-in and iPod sockets. There's also a useful cubby above the instrument panel complete with 12v socket and an equally practical overhead storage area we'd urge you not to use for heavier items - unless you want to open up the possibility of being clonked on the head the next time you do an emergency stop. On to luggage space. The LCV origins are, as you'd expect, very obvious when you approach the slab-sided rear end but, as we've already suggested, that's all to the good when it comes to the space you can expect inside, though the cargo area isn't very easy to get to if you find yourself backed into a tight parking bay. That's because the huge rear tailgate requires quite a lot of space to be left behind before it can be raised and there's no option to simply open the tailgate glass to get smaller bags in and out. Still, on the plus side, when it is up, you get the kind of shelter from the elements that a conventional rear hatch just can't provide. But just how much space is there in the luggage area? Well, not quite as much as you'd get in the direct van-based opposition. You're talking about 30% less than you'd get from a Berlingo Multispace, a Partner Tepee or a Doblo from this period. But don't be put off: there's still an awful lot of room here, the exact amount depending on whether the original customer from new ordered his or her Grand Tourneo Connect in five or seven seat form. Since we can't really see why an original customer would have paid the extra for the longer body style if they didn't want the extra third seating row, we're going to assume that the car you have in mind will be a seven-seater. In the rare event that all the pews are in use, there's 302-litres on offer - not massive, we'd agree, but pretty much the same as you'd get in a huge Ford Galaxy when similarly-configured, that being a car that when fitted with the same engine, would cost you nearly 40% more. And we're talking nearly three times as much space as you'd get in a similarly-configured Ford Grand C-MAX - which also, incidentally, is much pricier. With a Grand C-MAX - as with pretty much any other compact 7-seat MPV - you've virtually no luggage space alternatives if all three seating rows are in use. Here, you've got options: it's as simple as that. The low boot floor also means that chucking stuff in the back couldn't be easier, whether the item in question is a mountain bike or the family dog. Fold the rear bench and the news gets even better. The 2620-litre capacity that frees up is significantly greater (620-litres more in fact) than the total that in the same configuration you could expect from a much larger Ford S-MAX in the next class up - a car that with the same engine would cost you around 25% more. The space available is even about 300-litres more than you could expect in the same configuration from the big Ford Galaxy we mentioned earlier. If the stuff to be carried is really long - let's say something like a 2.9-metre-long kayak - well, there's even a folding front passenger seat so you can deal with that too. This is in short, a uniquely flexible family car.

What to Look For

As usual with a family MPV, check the interior for child damage. And with top-spec versions, check the alloy wheels for scratches. Look for any dents, dings and scratches to the panelwork. And ensure that the clutch engages smoothly and that the car goes into gear easily. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is fitted with a diesel particulate filter, but this may be clogged up if the previous owner hasn't completed too many highway journeys. Issues we came across on our ownership survey included a windscreen cracking across all by itself and the air con de-gassing after a few months (neither covered by Ford's warranty).

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2015 Grand Tourneo Connect 1.5 TDCi - Ex Vat) An oil filter is in the £20 bracket. An air filter costs around £10. A fuel filter is around £216. A pollen filter costs around £11-£30. A rear brake disc costs in the £72-£80 bracket (fronts £57-£90). A front brake pad set is in the £37-£98 bracket; rears in the £18-£35 bracket. A headlamp is in the £216-£222 bracket.

On the Road

Aren't motoring journalists pretentious? Have you ever heard one urging you to buy a van-based MPV? No, we haven't either. Most scribblers wouldn't be seen dead in a vehicle like this one: their loss as far as we're concerned. All you ever hear in reviews of van-based People Carriers are the negatives: the vague handling, the boxy, utilitarian shape and so on. But what about the positives that come with the LCV-derived approach? The high driving position. The dash-mounted gearstick that's beautifully positioned for your palm. The great door mirrors with their separate sections. The excellent, glassy all-round visibility. All these things endear us to cars of this kind. In terms of the dynamics though, we must confess that we weren't quite sure what to expect from this one. After all, you don't buy any vehicle of this sort if your priorities lie in sharp standards of ride and handling - and whatever their other virtues might be, van-based MPVs traditionally don't provide that. Or at least most of them don't. This model though, is based on a van that.. well, kind of does thanks to the fact that the underpinnings beneath are pretty much the same as those used by Ford's much lauded Focus, C-MAX and Kuga models. In other words, if any car of this kind was ever going to cut the mustard in this regard, it was always going to be this one. Like any LCV-based product, it handles better fully loaded, but even when there's no one in the vehicle but you, cornering is predictable. Body roll's well controlled too, so roundabouts can be taken at speed without the Connect rolling about alarmingly. If you've had experience with the commercial vehicle version, you might be prepared for that. The changes with this passenger model though, centre in on ride and refinement. Even bumpier roads don't faze it and though at speed, the large door mirrors create a bit of wind noise, otherwise the cabin is impressively hushed for a car of this kind. For this second generation Tourneo Connect model, the rattly old 1.8-litre TDCi was pensioned off and a more refined and efficient 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel unit inserted in its place, offering a choice of either 95 or 115PS outputs. It's the 95PS powerplant that was by far the most popular of the pair and you can see why. It's much more affordable than the pokier variant, yet the flexible 230Nm of torque on offer is still enough to happily shift along a car-full of people - and facilitate a braked towing weight of up to 1,200kg. A pity though, that you only get (an admittedly slick-shifting) five-speed gearbox: you have to stretch to the top 115PS powerplant for the sixth speed that makes motorway cruising that bit more refined. Go for this unit and pulling power improves to 270Nm.

Overall

There are two kinds of compact People Carrier you can buy from the 2012-2021 period. One based on a supermini - like Ford's B-MAX. And more practical but pricier family-sized models based on family hatchbacks - like Ford's C-MAX. Ultimately, what you're getting here is something bigger than C-MAX-size with the option of seven seats, yet selling for B-MAX-style money. Sounds good to us. Unless, rather pretentiously, you think that some sort of social stigma is attached to van-based MPVs, there's very little not to like here if your priorities centre on sensible versatility. This Grand Tourneo Connect after all, ought to alter the way people perceive cars of this kind, changing as it does many of the fundamental things you'd expect from this class of vehicle. Its seats fold into the floor, its electronic safety features are cutting edge, its engines can be hi-tech. It's even got clever equipment options and a modicum of style. Before this model came along, you had to stretch to something C-MAX or Scenic-like for all these kinds of things. Here, you can get them in a converted small Ford Transit. That's not fair of course: this is, after all, a lot more than a van with seats and windows. You don't have to spend long at the wheel to realise that. But the development team were fortunate in having such a good basic product to work with. Commercial vehicles have come a long way in recent years, which ought to have led to a vast improvement in cars of this kind. Here at last it did.

Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021) review by Jonathan Crouch

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Overview

Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Manufacturer:Ford
Model:Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Category:Compact 7-Seat MPVs
Rating:8 out of 10

Gallery

Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)
Car review: Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (2012 - 2021)

Scores

Performace:
50%
Handling:
80%
Comfort:
70%
Space:
90%
Styling:
80%
Build:
80%
Value:
70%
Equipment:
70%
Economy:
80%
Depreciation:
70%
Performace:
70%
Total:
74%